21 Shows to Usher in the New Year.
Let us leave 2020 behind. Better forgotten. On a positive note let us welcome 2021.
I’ve chosen the following shows to share with you. I look forward to seeing them from the comfort of my sofa. You too may enjoy them.
Colin in Black and White (Netflix)
Kaepernick, the activist, is the narrator of the six-episode drama which explores his adolescence and takes us back to his high school years. He and Ava DuVernay joined in the creation of it. She has a dual role, an executive producer and director. Jaden Michael (Wonderstruck) embodies the young quarterback.
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) play his adoptive parents. We leave understanding what made him the man he is today.
I agree with Tennyson’s often quoted “I am a part of all that I have met” and concur that we humans are, indeed, shaped by our experiences.
We Are: The Brooklyn Saints (Netflix)
I am neither a particularly avid sports fan nor particularly loyal to Netflix. I simply trust friends whose taste I trust and who’ve recommended it.
Rudy Valdez, directed this absolutely charming series which is both instructive and inspirational. It introduces us to and asks to follow the diverse youth football program in New York. Valdez won an Emmy for “The Sentence”.
You might remember this documentary about the consequences of the War on Drugs during the Reagan administration. One of the most destructive effects was that, in fact, the penal system became crowded with nonviolent offenders and destroyed families over what was often a “youthful mistake”.
Valdez painfully recounts the story of his sister’s mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for knowing about her ex-boyfriend’s dealings. It is a heartbreaking story. She had to leave her three daughters. The impact on the family was devastating. I’ve said more about this than the young men playing ball.
The Equalizer (CBS)
Queen Latifah takes on the role of the cryptic avenger once played by Edward Woodward in the original 1980s TV series and Denzel Washington on the big screen. She is joined on this venture by Chris Noth (Mr. Big on Sex and the City) and Lorraine Toussaint, a Trinidadian-American actress.
Her career began in theater but has had many notable roles in films and other TV shows. She received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Yvonne “Vee” Parker in Orange is the New Black. Worthy of note is her role of Amelia Boynton Robinson in Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay.
I also sing the praises of Queen Latifah. I do like to see a woman tackle this complicated role. She brings a self-confidence demeanor worthy of being emulated by younger aspiring actresses.
Dickinson (Apple TV+)
This a poetic (pardon the pun) historical comedy-drama series about Emily Dickinson. Hailee Steinfeld plays the demure poetess. It was created by Alena Smith who invites us to the world of Emily, her era. Her story is told from the perspective of someone who does not quite fit in. It is, in essence, a coming-of-age story – one woman’s audacity to have her voice heard.
There is the usual conflict between parents (Jane Krakowski plays her obedient mother) and child whose behavior shatters societal norms. Emily fights against the constraints of society, gender perceptions and family. She is in love with her best friend, and her brother’s fiancée, Sue.
Traditional views, mores, politics are explored. The series does not disappoint.
Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure (Discovery +)
We all love Dame Judi Dench. She needs no introduction. She’s been around for decades. She began her career in 1957 at the Old Vic. She has portrayed several women in Shakespeare’s plays, as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet
in Romeo and Juliet, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She soon branched out into film and made an impression there too.
There are simply too many roles to mention. I’ll mention one – M in Golden Eye. She continued to be M in the James Bond films until her final appearance in Skyfall in 2012. Accolades and awards are too many to mention as well. Dame Dench is a seven-time Academy-Award nominee and won the Oscar for her Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love. And now we travel with her to Borneo and watch her being hoisted up a tree! Up up and away! Amazing to see her in the wild! Her natural habitat is the
stage and screen, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
She would forgive my levity. Her spirit and personal involvement in protecting the environment makes her the perfect person to make us think about what we are doing to our planet. This trip to the land of sun bears, slow lorises, elephants, and trees that seem to touch the sky serves as a warning of the fragility of it all. Action must be taken!
Accompanied by the conservationist David Mills (“my chap”), Dench flew over an incredible, virtually untouched region of rainforest in south-east Asia. It is one of the oldest spots in the world – 130 million years old, we are told. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth! She is guided by scientists who show her all the extraordinary sights. These range from the harlequin tree frogs, which I didn’t know existed, to the mind-blowing number of types of insect, more than 40,000! These facts and figures are astonishing.
The orangutan population has dwindled by half in the past few years. Again, new information for me. A fun fact – orangutan translates as “person of the forest”. The word is derived fromthe Malay words orang meaning person and hutan meaning forest. Another fun fact – we share 97% of our DNA. Am serious, no monkeying around. Dench reacted with the same wonder and awe as we viewers did! You cannot miss this one!
And now a confession and an apology. I cannot continue writing this article now. Tempus fugit! I forgot I had committed to being present at a celebratory dinner with friends at an outdoor restaurant, La Grande Boucherie. Masks will be worn by all and social distancing observed. Stay safe, everyone!
The rather audacious 21 shows promised at the onset will be divided. Bear with me – I promise another 10 next week.